Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3), co-chair of the House Chicken Caucus, and Congressman John Rose (TN-6)—along with U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus—led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting that a rulemaking process to administer direct payments to contract chicken growers be completed as quickly as possible. Contract growers, who raise chickens for poultry processing companies, have not yet received federal assistance during the pandemic. Many contract chicken growers suffered substantial losses when processing facilities were forced to reduce or suspend production during the pandemic, threatening many smaller and family-owned farms.
The letter noted, “COVID-19 has severely affected the bottom lines of agricultural producers across the country, including many chicken growers in our home states. On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included additional resources for USDA to continue supporting American farmers. The bill also included funding for USDA to provide direct payments for contract chicken growers who previously had been excluded from assistance provided by the CFAP. We are concerned by the fact that these chicken growers still have not received federal assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to assist farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), we respectfully request that the Department expedite the rulemaking process to administer direct payments to contract chicken growers,” the members requested.
Additional House signees include Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-1), Andy Harris (MD-1), Diana Harshbarger (TN-1), Mike Rogers (AL-3), Trent Kelly (MS-1), Ben Cline (VA-6), Austin Scott (GA-8), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Robert Aderholt (AL-4), Buddy Carter (GA-1), Billy Long (MO-7), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Greg Steube (FL-17), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), French Hill (AR-2), Elaine Luria (VA-2), Andrew Clyde (GA-9), Michael Guest (MS-3), Drew Ferguson (GA-3), Dan Bishop (NC-9), Rick Allen (GA-12), Greg Murphy (NC-3), Jerry Carl (AL-1), Bruce Westerman (AR-4), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Markwayne Mullin (OK-2), Julia Letlow (LA-5), Dan Meuser (PA-9), David Rouzer (NC-7), Barry Moore (AL-2), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3), Ted Budd (NC-13), Michelle Fischbach (MN-7), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Mike Johnson (LA-4), David Kustoff (TN-8), Pat Fallon (TX-4), Jim Costa (CA-16), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Steven Palazzo (MS-4), Richard Hudson (NC-8), and John Joyce (PA-13).
Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Boozman (R-AR), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Cornyn (R-TX) also joined the letter.
A copy of the letter is available here.